Monday, May 29, 2006

Blackberry Iced Tea - Summer's Here!

Ok, so summer isn't "officially" here yet - it's not even June - but the weather is telling me otherwise, topping out at 90°F today. And when it gets that hot, there's only one thing I like better than a big glass of ice cold water and that's a big glass of ice cold blackberry iced tea. I've made this for a few years now and I really like the flaver. It's not overpoweringly berryful, but just berried enough to have a light flavor. Since we drink quite a bit of it, usually 2 quarts each day, we make it with two teabags of decaf black tea and one bag of Lipton Blackberry Flavored Black Tea. I've also made it with their Raspberry Flavored Black Tea and it was good, but I really prefer the blackberry.

I'm always amazed at how so many people have trouble making a good pitcher of tea. I see ads for Iced tea makers like these from Mr. Coffee all the time and I can't beleive people actually spend $20, $30 or even $60 on one of these contraptions when good iced tea is so simple to make. Here's my "recipe" for making my refreshing Blackberry Iced Tea.

Blackberry Iced Tea

Put 2 cups (that's about 475 ml) of water in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and bring to a boil inthe microwave (for mine, it takes about 3 minutes).
While the water is boiling, tie 3 teabgs together - 2 decaf black teabags and one bag of Lipton Blackberry Flavored Black Tea.
When the water is boils, remove it (carefully!) from the microwave and place it on the counter.
Dunk the teabags in and out of the hot water slowly several times.
Leave the bags in the water and keep them at the botom of the measuring cup by holding them down with a teaspoon.
Let the teabags sit (steep) for awhile... I usually leave them in for 15-20 minutes or so. Longer won't hurt.
When ready, pour the contents of the measuring cup (remove the spoon!) into a 2 quart pitcher (about 1.9 liters).
Fill the pitcher with fresh cool water up to the 2 quart mark (I usually run the water over the teabags, too).
If you like your tea sweet (I do), add 1/2 cup sugar to the pitcher and stir well. Taste and add more if needed.
Pour the tea over ice and sip...


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chicken, Potato and Spinach Stew

This is another recipe I took out of an issue of First Magazine way back when they had real recipe cards in them. This one actually wasn't on a card, but part of the "Hearty One-pot Dishes" section (October 3, 1994 issue, Vol 6, Issue 40, page 72). I haven't made it in a while, but it's definitely worth bringing back into the rotation.

I've made a few changes to the recipe, such as using frozen spinach and way more garlic than the original recipe called for (1 clove?!? Who uses only 1 clove of garlic in anything?). I like to use frozen chopped spinach because it make the preparation easier and I think it give a better "yield" of spinach - makes it a bit more "spinachy".

Chicken, Potato and Spinach Stew
2 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless (~1 lb)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 medium shallots, chopped (oh, I love shallots!)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or more...)
4 medium red potatoes, cut into quarters (~1 1/2 lbs)
2 cans Chicken broth (13 oz or so, preferably reduced sodium)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
10 oz package of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Cut each chicken breast halve lengthwise then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick strips.
In a large saucepot over medium heat, brown the chicken in the olive oil.
Remove the chicken and set aside.
In the drippings, add the shallots and cook until tender (a bit more oil won't hurt).
Stir in the garlic, add the potatoes, chicken broth and thyme.
Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Spoon 1/2 of the potato mixture into a blender or food processor, process on medium speed until smooth, then return to the saucepot.
Stir in the chicken, spinach and evaporated milk.
Heat through and serve with some nice crusty sourdough bread.

Here's the nutritional info (per serving) that accompanied this recipe:
Calories: 346 Protein: 35g Fat: 7g Sodium: 716mg
Carbohydrates: 33g Cholesterol: 72mg


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spicy Brown rice, Lentils and Shrimp

Yes, I love shrimp and tonight I tried something a bit different with it. This creation got mixed reviews, though. I liked it, my 5 year old loved it, but my wife, well, not so much. the inspiration for this cam from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook (1996). give it a try and tell me what you think.

Spicy Brown rice, Lentils and Shrimp
2 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup dried lentils sorted & rinsed
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 pound raw sheeled shrimp (31-40 size)
1 can (10 1/2 ounce) condensed chicken broth
1/2 broth can water (~5 ounces)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 medium green pepper, coarsely chopped (~1 cup)
a bit of finely shredded fresh parmesan

1. Melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat
2. Cook the onion and garlic unitl the onion is tender, stirring occcasionaly
3. Stir in the lentils, rice, broth, water, & Tabasco sauce
4. Heat the nixture until it boils, then turn the heat to low
Cover and simmer about 45 minutes adding an ounce of water or more if neccessary, until the rice is tender and the lquid is absorbed (don't add too much water!)
5. Mix in the shrimp and green pepper, add another ounce of water, cover and cook, stirring after a couple of minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through.
6. Serve with a light sprinkling of the parmesan.